We've seen all sorts of kitchen cookers, from a countertop pressure oven to a $5,000 Dacor double oven fit for a master chef. None of them have have earned our Editors' Choice yet, but the $1,249 Whirlpool Gold range (model WFE720H0AS) left me impressed just the same.
At first glance, that might come as a bit of a surprise. This oven doesn't have any particularly flashy features, and the stainless-steel design, while modern and attractive, isn't much different from the multitude of other ovens that look just like it. Still, the $1,249 Whirlpool Gold gets the little things right, and it's hard to find much fault with it. If you're looking for a solid cooking appliance for your kitchen, and you don't need a lot of bells or whistles, then you'll want to give it your full consideration.
Design-wise, the Whirlpool Gold is a bit of a conformist, checking off all of the usual boxes for contemporary styling. You've got stainless-steel trim, a dark, minimalist smooth cooktop, and touchpad oven controls. It all looks fine, but it isn't anything terribly special, either. You won't catch this oven going out of its way to try and impress you.
Maybe that's not such a bad thing, though. Take the Electrolux EI30EF35JS, for instance, which puts form over function with poorly-thought-out "IQ-Touch" controls for the burners. I'll take the boring knobs of the Whirlpool Gold over a cluttered design that tries too hard any day.
Like that Electrolux model (which retails for $300 more), the Whirlpool Gold's smooth cooktop has five burners, one of which is dedicated solely to keeping dishes warm. Both ranges also feature a burner capable of amping up the power in order to boil water faster. There are also burners on both ranges with adjustable sizes -- the Electrolux has three of them, while the Whirlpool has one.
The burner controls also feature one of those aforementioned "little things" that I think Whirlpool gets right. A red light on the left side of the rear-mounted display will light up whenever a burner is turned on, but a second red light on the right side of the display will light up whenever a burner is hot -- even after the burner is turned off. That's a great detail that might stop you from accidentally burning yourself.
As for the oven, the Whirlpool Gold boasts a 6.2-cubic-foot capacity -- the same as the comparably priced KitchenAid Architect Series II, and slightly larger than what you'll get from Electrolux. Inside, you'll find a convection fan and three adjustable metal racks. They aren't ball-bearing-mounted glide racks, like the ones that Electrolux provides, but you do get one with a removable section, making it easier to make room for multiple dishes and for tall, awkwardly-sized pots and pans.
Like most ovens in this price range, the Whirlpool Gold features a hidden bake element, which simply means that the bottom of the oven is a flat, recessed surface. If you spill anything, it won't land directly on the coils, which makes cleanup a lot easier.
This recessed bottom also allows you to use water for makeshift steam cleaning at low temperatures. Like the KitchenAid Architect II, the Whirlpool Gold features a dedicated "AquaLift" mode designed to do exactly that. If gunk starts to accumulate in your oven, rest assured that this cycle will help you get it cleaned up with minimal odor.
|Electrolux EI30EF35JS||Whirlpool WFE720H0AS|
|Standard preheat time (400 F)||12:50||13:33|
|Fast preheat time (400 F)||8:35||11:00|
|Standard boil time (212 F)||8:30||6:50|
|Fast boil time (212 F)||4:45||4:40|
The other nice feature this oven offers is a fast preheat mode that promises to shave a few minutes off your food prep. Like the fast boil, this is an identical feature to one on the Electrolux model, so I decided to test the two out in a side-by-side race to 400 degrees.
The Electrolux was the winner, getting there in about 8 and a half minutes compared to 11 minutes for Whirlpool. Still, the Whirlpool's fast preheat time was down 20 percent from the normal time of 13.5 minutes, so I have to call the feature a success -- just not quite as much of a success as Electrolux, which sped things up by about 30 percent and won the race with time to spare.